One man dead in mine in northern Quebec as search continues for two others

Rescue workers feared the worst as they searched frantically for three trapped miners Monday, and those fears quickly turned into grief as they recovered a body from the flooded gold mine.

Pierre Bernaquez

DESMARAISVILLE, Que. — Rescue workers feared the worst as they searched frantically for three trapped miners Monday, and those fears quickly turned into grief as they recovered a body from the flooded gold mine.

Workers kept pumping water from the Quebec mine in the hope that one of the other two men might be found alive.

The search so far has resulted only in frustration and heartbreak.

“We’d found three helmets and a lamp — and that’s it. Now we’ve just found a body,” said Pierre Bernaquez, superintendent of human resources for Metanor Resources.

“This is very painful, but we’ll keep going. We were kind of expecting something like this. We were still hoping to find them alive, even if we knew inside that the chances were very slim.”

The men were trapped somewhere between the 11th and 12th levels of the gold mine. To have survived from that area, Bernaquez said, they would have had to plunge through 50 metres of water and, in pitch darkness, found an air pocket.

Officials have likened the flooded mine to a small lake.

“I don’t know. Unless you’re a professional diver — to achieve that feat, especially in the dark, it’s very unlikely they would have been able to survive,” Bernaquez said.

The victim’s identity was not immediately released following the tragedy in the northern Quebec community of Desmaraisville.

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